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Thrift Store Fire Sends Heavy Smoke Over Van Nuys

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Juan Fernandez joined CBS2 News as a general assignment reporter in...
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Van Nuys (CBS) — Firefighters battled a major fire that ripped through a Van Nuys thrift store and threatened to spread to neighboring businesses Wednesday night.

The fire, which was reported at 5:07 at 6600 Van Nuys Blvd., between Victory Boulevard and Vanowen Street, took about two hours to extinguish.

There were no visible flames, but heavy smoke billowed from the First Bargain Center store, filling the air alone Van Nuys Boulevard for blocks. Officials said the marine layer caused the smoke to linger.

At the height of the battle, 100 city firefighters worked to keep the fire from spreading.

“Firefighters did have a heave fire load when they arrived on scene. Immediately they engaged in an aggressive fire attack, where firefighters forced entry into the building, they used hand lines inside and then firefighters when to the roof in order to do ventilation,” said Captain Jaime Moore of the L.A. City Fire Department.

The fire continued to intensify, as four ladders were brought in to douse from above.

“They placed anywhere between 1,500 to 2,000 gallons of water per minute each on the fire,” Moore said. “What we did there was actually control the fire from spreading to the adjacent structures.”

The store was closed at the time of the fire, but other businesses, like the El Criollo Restaurant across the street, were open. But the heavy smoke and lack of customers forced them to shut down early.

“We lost about a half day of sales, so hopefully we can make up for it later in the week when we’re going to be a little busier, but it does hurt us a little bit,” restaurant owner Albert Sera said.

One firefighter suffered minor injuries and was transported to a hospital.

Investigators were looking into the cause of the fire.

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